A couple of weeks back, my hiking friend Maja and I tried to find the North Siouxon Creek Trail, but we had problems because we were relying on GPS from her phone to get to the trailhead, and it lost track of where we were. We ended up at the Siouxon Trail instead, doing a brief hike (because we spent so long driving around in the forest), which I already reported on.
So, this week, armed with better instructions, we headed off to look for the North Siouxon Creek Trail, with the caveat that at the trailhead signpost (but nowhere else we can find), it is called the North Siouxon River Trail. It lies within the Siouxon County Park next to Gifford Pinchot National Forest and offers a pretty forest walk near the creek and a waterfall at the end if you can hike that far. I will warn you that the references to this trail are few, they are all under North Siouxon Creek Trail, and some searches will turn up the Siouxon Trail instead. (This confused my sister-in-law, Nancy, who thought we were going there.)
North Siouxon River Trail
Siouxon County Park, Amboy, WA
Distance: 9.8 miles in and out to Black Hole Falls (we went about two miles in and back)
Difficulty: Middling as far as we went, but probably Moderate to Tougher if you go the whole way
Panting stops: 5 to 7
Elevation change: 1,578 feet (we did about 500 feet)
It was another gorgeous fall day, although many of the leaves had fallen from the trees. We drove back to this remote hiking trail to enjoy a couple hours of hiking. The route to this trailhead is tortuous, and we almost thought we weren’t going to find it again, so please be sure to bring good driving instructions. Your phone GPS won’t work this far back in the forest, and the driving instructions on AllTrails are horrible. Also note that while the road is in good condition, it is rough.
On the way out, we drove past Tumtum Mountain and again found ourselves on the narrow paved and gravel roads leading back to the forest. The trail itself begins in a Douglas fir and western hemlock forest and goes steeply down from the trailhead, so be sure to save some energy to get back up. The path is a narrow dirt one, but it is well kept and not rocky. The forest eventually becomes one of red alder and bigleaf maple. As we made our way down toward the creek, we passed over some places where small rivulets of water crossed the trail, and we could tell there would be more when it was wetter.
The trip report we were following cited several creek crossings. The first one was easy, just a big step from one bank to another. However, when we got to the second one, I felt uncertain about making it across. You are presented with a choice of stepping from rock to rock over the creek (just three steps, and Maja made it across easily) or a tree trunk covered with shingles with a hand rope. I did not feel that my balance was equal to either, and Nancy said her dog had an open wound, so she didn’t want him in the water. So, at that point we decided to go back.
However, for people who want to go farther, there is the promise of an impressive waterfall at Black Hole Falls and according to the trip report we were using, the best access to Mitchell Peak (11 miles round trip from the falls).
How to get there
You can either take I-5 north to the Battle Ground exit, turn east on WA-502 and then left on WA -503 in Battle Ground or take WA-500/503 up from Vancouver. From Battle Ground it’s about 17 miles to Chelatchie. In Chelatchie, turn right next to the Chelatchie store (across the road from the Mt. St. Helens Park Headquarters) on NE Healey Road. After 2.4 miles, the road becomes FR-54 and the pavement change is noticeable.
From the turn onto Healey, drive 5.2 miles to a fork, where you keep right. Take the second left after crossing the bridge, which is 1.6 miles after the fork.
After 0.7 miles, stay left. Keep left again after another 0.5 miles.
In another 0.1 miles, you’ll pass through a gate with signs that say “Discover Pass Required.”
In 0.4 miles, stay right on S1000. You will continue to follow S1000 all the way to the trailhead.
In 2.3 miles, you’ll pass over the bridge on Siouxon Creek. At the junction of S2000, stay left.
About 0.7 miles after the Siouxon Creek bridge, you will cross over the North Fork Siouxon Falls bridge (and another bridge about 0.5 miles later).
About 0.8 miles after the North Siouxon Falls bridge, you will come to the very noticeable trailhead at a sharp left turn.
Parking and Facilities
A Discover Pass is required.
The parking lot has room for about 20 cars. There are no other facilities. Dogs are allowed on a leash.